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HomeHollywood NewsNo Movie Faculty. No Expertise. No Cash. The 'Freedom's Path' Story

No Movie Faculty. No Expertise. No Cash. The ‘Freedom’s Path’ Story


Hardly ever, if ever, does life transfer in a straight line, regardless of how badly we would prefer it to.

As our hopes and goals discover their means into our hearts, we seldom consider something aside from that coveted second after we discover ourselves standing on prime of the mountain peak of feat.

That second after we say to ourselves “I’ve arrived… I’ve carried out it!”

Our first ideas are by no means, “What number of pitfalls will come up” or “What’s going to I’ve to sacrifice to be able to notice my dream?” I’ve discovered that there are not any elevators to the highest, no rocket ships or portals that magically transport us to that summit the place our goals sit ready.

No. If we need to attain the coveted peaks of our hopes and goals, then we should do as all climbers do: we should stroll and crawl and claw… inching our means as much as that oxygen starved summit.

At the least that’s what I needed to do to make “Freedom’s Path,” starring Gerran Howell, RJ Cyler and Ewen Bremner, and it’s been a 12-year climb.

What’s my dream? To be a filmmaker. To have the flexibility to inform the tales that encourage and transfer me.

The principle drawback with that dream is everybody and their canine (and cat and chicken) desires to make films, too. It additionally doesn’t assist that the tales I are likely to lean in the direction of can’t be made for $30,000.

So, with that understanding, I did what any younger, bold filmmaker does. I took my script and spent a number of years chasing the “Hollywood route” (from my house in Washington State). That’s, I attempted to discover a studio or A-list producer to take my script, snap their fingers and make all my goals come true.

Spoiler alert: that didn’t occur.

In reality, nearly all the pieces {that a} massive business skilled advised me to do, didn’t work. I truly discovered that if I did one thing near the precise reverse of what they stated, I might get means additional.

They had been nonetheless utilizing tales of Spielberg, Rodriguez, and the Duplass brothers as examples of how one can break into the business. Evidently, they had been fairly out of contact with true indie filmmaking, in as we speak’s world.

Go determine.

Whereas I did meet some wonderful business veterans who cheered for me and supported me, I spotted that If I needed to make my movie, and inform my story, I used to be going to need to set out by myself and begin climbing up and away from the Hollywood system… in order that’s what I did.

As I stood alone trying to determine simply what to do subsequent, I discovered myself trying up on the most evident and apparent impediment for any filmmaker: cash. Actual cash. Some huge cash.

Freedoms Path film poster 2022

How on earth would I get it with out an MBA or robbing a financial institution? Kickstarter and Indiegogo actually weren’t going to do it for me.

I made a decision I might observe my instinct, and use the 2 key sources at my disposal…an iMac laptop and my limitless ardour to inform this story. We’re speaking Andy Dufresne along with his rock chisel in Shawshank form of ardour.

So, I spent two and a half years on that iMac, scouring totally different web sites and sources, trying to trace down potential buyers. I used to be averaging eight hours a day, usually extra, and let me let you know… I discovered all types of characters; from scammers (who I might later see within the information for fraud), to corridor of fame athletes, and well-known actors.

In reality, I’m fairly certain I spoke with just a few legit mobsters… I didn’t schedule a observe up name.

All in all, I despatched out greater than 4,300 emails, although it might have been extra. My Gmail account was so full that I needed to begin deleting emails. In any case, what filmmaker is upgrading their Gmail account to pay for storage? I’m not a silicon valley engineer…

I can’t correctly convey the wrestle, the ache and the variety of occasions I needed to surrender throughout that two-year time period. Listening to “No” that usually was past brutal. Past.

How did I maintain going, day after day? I needed to trick myself and switch it right into a sport… like an easter egg hunt. Each “No” received me nearer to my “Sure.”

It was a numbers sport. For each 20 emails I might ship out, I might anticipate solutions from 3-5 folks (largely “we respectfully go”). For each 500 emails I might ship out, I might get possibly 15 requesting the script… after which possibly solely a kind of 15 would truly find yourself studying it.

So between 1- 2 folks out of 1,000 would truly learn the script.

However greater than video games and thoughts tips, what saved me going, was the small core group of people that wouldn’t let me give up. My spouse, my dad and my pals. None of them would let my ardour or my drive fade.

Positive, they’d let me pout and really feel sorry for myself for a day or two, however then they’d power me again up into the saddle, strap my hiking-pack again on and ship me on my means. As I look again on issues, I’m able to see that these folks actually carried me up the mountain greater than I ever walked it.


So what was it about this story that motivated and compelled me by means of greater than a decade of insane ups and downs? It was the need and drive to inform a narrative about unknown and forgotten folks. To create a narrative that may try and encapsulate only a portion of the spirit, braveness, and perseverance of the numberless tens of millions of enslaved Individuals who went silently to unmarked graves.

On a regular basis folks, whose tales have been misplaced to time.

Ultimately, I used to be fortunate sufficient to seek out 10 buyers (out of 4,300). And let me simply say that I really like and adore every certainly one of them.

As soon as I received the cash, I took my group of filmmakers, who’ve been with me since my earliest days in movie, together with my good DP who has been working with me on this for 11 of the 12 years. All of those filmmakers are hustlers, warriors, trench rats, freaks of nature (and some other cool and wonderful title to explain beastly people able to something) and went right down to NW Arkansas to make our interval epic.

We partnered with an excellent native manufacturing firm and introduced on assassins as division heads. That, mixed with among the biggest, most proficient and humble actors residing as we speak, we started.

Suffice it to say, we created absolute magic. Each single particular person on the group took the dream and made it their very own, elevating every side of the story (in entrance of and behind the digital camera). Really taking pictures the movie had its personal eco system of huge challenges (you recognize, floods, tornados, mud ticks, chiggers, snakes, sub zero temps… mud, and many others.) however that story is for one more day.

We wrapped manufacturing proper as COVID-19 hit (one other mountain to traverse). My editor and I leaned into post-production and took the higher a part of a 12 months massaging and discovering the story (whereas being a continent aside from one another). Then got here our good composer and post-house to complete the movie off and make it look and sound lovely.

And Voila! The movie is finished and starting its movie competition run… and all the pieces ended fortunately ever after.

If solely.


Having been capable of climb the summits of financing, casting, manufacturing and post-production, I now stare down the dual peaks of public notion and distribution. Within the U.S. as we speak, the nation is cut up politically and socially, dissecting itself off into teams and factions, not in contrast to through the Civil Warfare.

Some folks on the fitting aspect of the political aisle see the trailer of the movie and make a snap judgment, saying it’s “woke nonesense,” whereas these on the left say, “Not one other slave movie… no extra white saviors!”

Each are totally flawed.

For the Liberals: It’s most actually not one other slave movie. In reality, there may be not a single slave depicted on display. Each character you meet has both bought their very own freedom, run away and declared themselves free, or is within the means of operating away.

Additionally, you will not discover any “white savior” trope right here… the movie was designed to be the polar reverse. The movie’s protagonist (a Union soldier) is rescued mentally, bodily, emotionally and spiritually by the free Black Individuals of the movie.

In reality, “Freedom’s Path” occurs to be the primary ever in historical past to observe a gaggle of free Blacks residing within the South through the Civil Warfare working a cease on the Underground Railroad.

freedom's path civil war scene
A scene from ‘Freedom’s Path,’ a narrative that defies tribal definitions.

Lastly, for all you Conservatives: If depicting daring, complicated and heroic black figures of this period who’re genuine and actual, is woke… then I suppose you may pin that badge on me and name it woke (however you’ll nonetheless be flawed).

After 12 lengthy years, I can guarantee you that the narrative, the characters and the themes of movie are infinitely extra nuanced and deep than any up to date political and social slants- no matter your perspective. A floor degree look at this movie is not going to do.

Regardless of the place this movie finally ends up, or how many individuals do (or don’t) see it, I can say that it has been the journey of a lifetime. All the wrestle and hardship, and the years of fear and stress, led me up steep mountainous terrains that I by no means had anticipated when first setting out.

It has taken me 12 years to understand the fact that there is no such thing as a peak. There isn’t a pinnacle. There may be only a lovely, difficult, and laborious mountainous journey.

The last word trick is to by no means cease placing one foot in entrance of the opposite, lean on these you’re keen on, and take a second now and again to cease and look out on the gorgeous vistas that lay behind you. Vistas which are solely seen from the rugged mountain tops.

Simply do not forget that as you pursue your goals and climb your mountains, that it’s going to take you longer than you anticipate. You’ll have way more setbacks than you had hoped alongside your journey, however take it from somebody who’s 12 years into their climb… each step is price it.


Brett Smith is the author/director of “Freedom’s Path.”




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